resolved that this is the year that you’ll change your life.
Maybe it’s something simple like getting up an hour earlier every day so you don’t spend the whole morning barking orders at your kids like an army sergeant as your rush them out the door without so much as a goodbye kiss.
Or maybe it’s something a little more ambitious like getting your finances in order so you can finally quit the job you hate to become a musician, a writer, an Iron Chef or a globetrotter who has No Reservations.
Whatever it is, you are excited. Determined. All set to change your life.
Except, quite innocently, you may be making the mistakes that could quietly sabotage all your efforts.
Luckily, once you know what these mistakes are, they are quite easy to fix. So, here is a quick overview of what to avoid in your exciting journey of creating a new life.
1. You expect change to happen instantaneously
When you start out to change something in your life, it is quite easy to get stoked and carried away into thinking that the change will happen immediately. Besides, the pace of the world that we live in leads us to think that everything is instantaneous. But lasting change takes time. If you do not recognize that, you are setting yourself up for failure without even realizing it.
The fix: Be realistic. Focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate small incremental changes knowing full well that larger, more impactful changes will occur when the time is right.
2. Your formula for change is too complicated
We human beings are inherently lazy. If something is too complex or difficult, chances are our brain will find a way to get us out of it. When you are planning it may seem impressive that you have a grand plan with a complicated means to achieve success. If you are not careful, that very complicated plan that seems so impressive will be responsible for your failure.
The fix: Break up your grand complicated plan into a series of SMART steps - Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Not only will having simple steps make it easier to achieve them, each little achievement can fuel the drive to keep charging on.
3. You are not clear about your end goal, or your end goal keeps moving
It is very easy to get carried away and chase a nebulous vision, but if you don’t clearly define what your end goal is, how will you know when you reach it? “I want to lose weight” is something great to aspire to, but unless you set a fixed goal - eg, “I want to lose 5 pounds” or “I want to fit in my favorite skinny jeans again”, you will be chasing your tail until you get tired and quit.
The fix: Be clear about your end goal. It is important to reevaluate your plan and adjust as you go, but if the impact of mid-term alterations on the end goal is significant, then split it up into two goals. If you started out with “I want to lose 5 pounds” and then decided “I want to fit in my favorite skinny jeans again” which would require you to lose 10 pounds, then keep you first goal intact. When you reach the goal celebrate your success and then start on a new project to lose 5 pounds again so you can fit in those oh-so-sexy jeans.
4. You underestimate the degree of commitment that the change requires
If I had a penny for everytime that I have fallen for this, I’d be a fairly rich gal. It is easy to start out on a personal transformation journey with high levels of motivation. But staying motivated through whatever life throws at you, that’s a whole other story.
The fix: Expect that you will underestimate the degree of commitment required, and put safeguards in place to pull you back on track when you stumble. Make your goals public. Tell anyone who will listen about your journey of transformation so you will be too embarrassed to backtrack. Find yourself a “buddy” to keep you accountable. Or, start journaling/blogging so you will feel obliged to keep going.
5. You are surrounded by negative people
Who you hang out with matters. If everyone around you thinks what you want to do is impossible or ridiculous, chances are, you will slowly start second guessing your resolution. It’s a lot harder to succeed if your faith in your cause starts to dwindle.
The fix: You may be able to stop associating with some of the negative people in your life, but it is unrealistic to think you can eliminate all of them. The best way to deal with this is to counteract the negative influence by increasing the positive people in your life. Find forums, facebook groups, mastermind groups, mentors, coaches and well wishers who can reinforce your faith when it starts to fade.
6. You expect everyone to immediately see you for the new person that you are
"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
You may have a vision and may be working hard towards it, but expecting others to start treating you differently based on your yet-unrealized future is a surefire road to disappointment and disillusionment.
The fix: Be patient. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. And keep in mind that you cannot erase the past or the judgment people have made about you based on their experience of the past. You can only aspire to change the present and the future, and hope that they will eventually respect you for the new person you have become.
7. You treat temporary setbacks as permanent failures
No matter how small or how big your goals are, chances are you will have a few setbacks. How you deal with these setbacks determine how far you can get in your journey of change.
The fix: Cliched as it is, embrace the statement that failure is the stepping stone to success. And write this quote by Edison someplace where you can see it often - “I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work”
8. You give in to your fears
Finally, on this journey, you will have to face your inner demons at some point or the other. You will have to face the fear of unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of looking like a fool, the weight of past failures and pressure of future expectations. If you are not careful, the fears can crush the life out of your resolution right under your nose.
The fix: There really is no easy way around this but to grit your teeth and plough on. Take one step at a time. Leave the past behind and the future ahead. Focus on the one thing you need to do next and keep at it.
You can change your life for the better. No, it is not going to be easy, but you already knew that. And it is going to be awesome, and yeah, you already knew that too.
Just watch out for the gotcha’s above and keep marching, you’ll get there soon enough.
Did I miss any others?
|Written on 1/7/2013 by Sumitha, who after writing this rather long post ought to be on a vacation. Except, she’s not, and will see you around ;) In the mean time, she hopes you are inspired to pick a few resolutions. And if any of them are related to parenting, she invites you to stop by afineparent.com and hang out with other like-minded folks with similar goals.|